• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

There is a reason actors fight for the chance to play the bad guy. The lines are great, the costumes are great, the songs are spectacular, the villains often look much sexier than the heroes, and they don't have to spend the whole shoot pretending they are nicer than anyone they've ever met.

Plus, there are all those wonderful toys!

Why is all that true? Why does the bad guy get all the cool stuff? Because you don't have a story unless you have conflict. The bad guy in most cases is the conflict: The Villain Makes the Plot. The more interesting the bad guy, the more interesting the story. It really is that simple.

Plus, there are all those marvelous toys! Wait. Already said that.

Compare Good Is Boring. Contrast This Is Your Brain on Evil and Being Evil Sucks. See also Balance Between Good and Evil. Ignore Good Feels Good, those traitors don't know what they're talking about. And those wonderful... Ahhh, forget it. The reason Love to Hate exists. Dark Is Not Evil, Noble Demons, and some Anti Heroes (especially Nineties Anti Heroes) harness the coolness of evil without the actual evil.

Examples of Evil Is Cool include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Principality of Zeon in Mobile Suit Gundam. They have the fancy uniforms and scary Cyber Cyclops, and gained huge legions of fans in Japan and everywhere. Ali al-Saachez is incredibly popular with the fans, despite being a Complete Monster. Why? Well, for the girls, there's his rugged good looks, and for the guys? Put simply, Ali is horribly evil...and he's made of awesome.
  • Played straight in X 1999, where the main villain turns from rather dorky to very cool.
  • Parodied in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Movie, where Kaiba (the Anti-Hero) says to Yami (The Hero) during their duel "You're pathetic! No one cares about you! I'm the only reason people watch Yu-Gi-Oh!. Me, Seto Kaiba! I have all the cool gadgets, I have all the best outfits, and I have the most powerful monsters. Nobody would be watching this movie right now if it weren't for me. So just this once I deserve to win."
  • Inverted in Pokémon: Jessie, James, and Meowth can't do anything evil right, but are highly useful when they're working with Ash.
    • Played straight in "Training Daze", in the Japanese version, at least, where it is shown that Jessie and James were actually pretty cool.
    • And as of the Unova saga, they now have new black costumes, gliders, jet packs, a bunch of spy gadgets, and effectively kick ass.
  • Light Yagami from Death Note clearly fits.
    • As do most of the other villains, especially Mello and Ryuk.
    • The author himself was shocked that so many people seemed to love evil characters such as Light. He probably decided to have Light lose and die at the end simply because so many people wanted a character he purposely made evil to win.
    • That outcome was almost certainly planned from the start. However, they probably made Light's epic crash and burn ending even harsher than originally conceived to drive home what they really thought of their "hero".
  • Examples in Code Geass.
    • Lelouch/Zero, of course. Although not truly evil like, say, his father (see below), his motives are definitely questionable.
    • Charles zi Britannia, who's voiced by none other than Norio Wakamoto.
    • Britannia as a whole. A ton of fans tend not to see all the nazism and casual mass murder because of all the pretty uniforms and badass mecha!
  • In the Bad Future of Mahou Sensei Negima, Negi's students capture Takane D. Goodman and her posse, and (painlessly) Mind Probe them to know where Negi is imprisoned. This leads to the following exchange:

 Asuna: Don't we look like the bad-guys here?

Haruna: Bad-guys are cool!

  • Sir Crocodile of One Piece pulls this off almost too well. By all intents and purposes, he is the prime example of a Complete Monster, with a list of atrocities that can fill a book. However, he commits his evil acts while dressed like a blinged-out mafia don, complete with a ring on almost every finger and a pimpin' green fur coat. Not only that, but he controls an organization made up of Crazy Awesome Badasses, owns a casino, trots around with a scantily-clad hot chick as his #2, keeps incredibly dangerous predators as pets, and is also made of and can control sand, and he has a hook for a hand. That's just darn cool. But he's such a bastard...
    • You can't one up a bastard-8 foot plus tall-knight-marine-Godfather-insanely choking-likely rapist-pirate who kills people by touching them named Crocodile...unless you are a silent-8 foot plus tall-gangster-pirate-superstrong-hetero-ninja who is also a sword named DAZ BONES. He's like Raven from Tekken, only bigger, stronger, a pirate, has no need for weapons, and has the greatest name ever hands down. His loss, or, actually, both of their losses, lost the strawhats fans.
    • Hell, all of the villains are incredibly awesome in their own singular ways. Though the best way to put it is...

  Y, Ruler of Time: on One Piece's villains How is it possible that these guys are so awesome I want to root against the Straw Hats?!


 "I always found those justice-defending heroes in manga and on tv to be so stupid... the villains were always so much cooler."


Comic Books

  • The Joker, in most incarnations. It doesn't matter whether he's a giggling, goofy clown prince of crime (e.g. the 60's Batman television series), a mass-murdering sociopathic Monster Clown (e.g. The Dark Knight Saga), or a seemingly impossible mixture of the two (e.g. Batman the Animated Series), he will inevitably overshadow every other character, have all the best lines, and, while Batman will always have the best toys (he's the goddamn Batman, after all), the Joker will find the most creative and spectacular ways to use the tools at his disposal. No matter what he does or who he does it to, he will make you laugh, because of the simple fact that he's just that good.
    • Discussed in an issue of Batman: Black and White, a short-story anthology. In this story, Batman and the Joker are actors playing their comic book roles as if they were roles in a movie. The Joker brings up the fact that Batman always gets to make a big, dramatic, splash-panel entrances, complaining that he never gets to look that good. Batman then points out that the Joker always gets the best lines, while he just has generic crime-fighting hero lines.
    • Batman in general is a magnet for this. When your main character is a traumatized billionaire dressed as a bat and you have villains drawing your attention far away from that, it really says something.

  Le Tueur: I have a confession to make: I only like the Batman because he has the best villains!

  • In the Marvel Universe, Doctor Doom practically owns this trope. He's a science genius who wears a cloak and a suit of armour, rules his own country, and lives in a castle. And refers to himself in the third person! DOOM insists on it!
  • Monsieur Choc, the main villain in the Tif et Tondu Belgian comic book series. He is considered so cool that he is the reason the series became popular in the first place, and the recent re-releases deliberately put him as the focus on the covers of the stories chosen.
  • The titular character of Lucifer is a horrible, destructive person, but (likely in reference to Paradise Lost below) is incredibly awesome all the same.
  • Daredevil villain Bullseye; even if he's a Psycho for Hire, he still has enough style that it's gained him many fans.
  • Played with in Sin City. The pure evil characters are usually pretty ugly and often cowardly, or just plain creepy. Some of the good guys, however, are at the extreme end of anti-herodom. The most popular tend to be Marv, Dwight, and Miho, who would normally be considered bad guys in any other work. They are also damn cool.

Fan Fiction

  • In StarBeam, a villain named Drake Bloodlust is a Benevolent Boss with a deep voice, and can make calculating schemes really well. He's a Knight of Cerebrus obsessed with the word "Purikyra" to cause mass destruction on Godzilla level, and unusual for other villains, he believes in The Power of Friendship. He has a henchman, a dracolich named Wyrm Skuld (a funny dracolich with a sense of humour), who he treats with love and respect, and is willing to adjust whether Skuld gets a good idea.
    • Wyrm Skuld, Drake's undead dracolich, and is also Drake's henchman. He has a good sense of humour, and can produce armor for his undead squadron. He also has a trinket that can give power to his allies that can nullify time stopping abilities (Dio Brando's included).
  • Inner Sha and Tork are this, in the Mighty pups fanfic, "Copycat gets new help". Inner Sha is a human that can design machines that can use his opponent's opponent's own size against them while Tork is a Mad Scientist obsessed with taking down the Mighty Pups and wrenches.
  • This trope in addition to the skewed morality of How I Became Yours is why Mai and Sho are considered the only good parts of the comic.


  • Darth fucking Vader.
  • The Matrix has an obvious example of this trope: Agent Smith. Hugo Weaving in general apparently loves playing awesome bad guys. Take a look at V for Vendetta and Red Skull Even more so, Megatron (see below).
  • Cesare. There's a reason that so many other characters - usually nicer ones - look like him.
  • Almost every Disney villain imaginable turns out to be cooler and much more lovable and funny than the protagonist. Having really awesome Villain Songs probably helps.
  • "The Black Cauldron" may have not been a smash hit, but the Horned King is by far the most redeemable part of the movie, being subtle, yet terrifying and can get scarier when excited.
  • And who could forget the sexy, singing smog cloud that was Hexxus in Fern Gully (voiced by Tim Curry, no less)?
    • Really, any villain played or voiced by Tim Curry will shine so much that it can be almost dangerous in how awesome they turn out. Screw the protagonists, let's throw them in a death trap so we can hear the bad guy do that evil laugh again!
    • Legend thrives on this. People may complain that Tom Cruise isn't wearing pants and there's glitter on everything, but those horrifically cheesy lines the Lord of Darkness provides? Priceless.
  • Subverted in Spider-Man 3: when he's possessed by the symbiote and 'evil', Peter Parker thinks he's this, but is still noticeably geeky and clueless — he's just now arrogant and obnoxious as well (but he does become the most supernaturally smooth tango dancer since Gomez Addams). Furthermore, the symbiote eventually merges with Eddie Brock, who is noticeably slimy, unctuous, and creepy.
    • Played perfectly straight by Spider-Man 2, though. Doctor Octopus is made of win.
    • In terms of Spider-Man movie characters, Venom would have been the epitome of this trope if he hadn't been killed off so quickly.
    • Norman Osborn was kind of cooler as a business scientist than as the Green Goblin, though, apart from a few aerial acrobatic moments and maybe his first murder...and he was coolest while talking to himself and wigging out.
  • Tai Lung of Kung Fu Panda, all the way. He's also one of the most sympathetic characters in the film.
  • Darryl Revok of Scanners. Bad, bad dude. Pow. Michael Ironside pretty much always invokes this trope, even when playing a nominally good guy.
  • Applies to various evil monsters in the Godzilla movies, especially the Godzilla Final Wars version of Gigan that gets Chainsaw Good hands for the final battle. Also applies to Godzilla himself in the films where he is evil.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia:
    • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Queen Jadis in her bright attire out-cools almost all of her opponents on the battlefield, possible because actress Tilda Swinton is inherently cool in all her roles. In Prince Caspian, nasty uncle Miraz has some of the best lines (although it's hard to beat Edmund), the best beard (not counting Aslan's), and probably the genuinely best set of armour.
    • Miraz was less cool in the book, but the all-dialogue scene in the Howe with the hag and the werewolf was one of its most memorable bits, mostly due to the werewolf's creepy bragging. Of course, it ranks up there with Aslan growing delicious grapes for everyone and the duel.
  • Blood Feast is a great example of this. Fuad Ramses is the only good character in the whole movie.
  • The 1985 film Fright Night has Jerry Dandridge.
  • The independent horror/comedy film Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon has the coolest new killer who looks up to Jason and Freddy, who lets a crew document his future reign of terror. Leslie Vernon is not only charming, witty, and genuinely friendly; before beginning his legacy, while in a library, he says, "Paradise Lost? Found it!" while grabbing John Milton's Paradise Lost. And he keeps turtles as pets and then tells the young woman interviewing him that he only kept pets that he could eat. His mask is amazing as well.
  • Avatar. Colonel. Miles. Motherfucking. Quaritch. Works out to stay strong on a planet with weaker gravity, commands a platoon of tough ex-armed forces mercenaries, rocks a customized mecha with a freakin' dragon painted on the gun barrel and a huge-ass combat knife, holds his breath, kicks down a door and steps into toxic air simply to pursue a traitor with his assault rifle, sports scary as hell scars on one side of his face, and rides to battle in the Dragon Gunship while sipping fine Arabica Roast coffee. That he possesses the courage and determination to keep fighting no matter the odds merely adds to his Colonel Badass bona fides.
  • The Lord of the Rings films bring a perfect examples of this.
    • While the men of Gondor are just a bunch of unshaven men wearing plate mail, Sauron has not just his orcs and trolls, but the soldiers of Rhûn, spearmen with remotely creative looking armor and warchants that sound like the Haka, and the Haradim, who ride mumakil, which are essentially the ninety foot tall war elephants that Hannibal had wet dreams about. Their impact onto the frontlines of a charge from the Riders of Rohan (which had routed an orc army of dramatically superior size) was a moment where even the orchestra abandoned the forces of order as the Haradim rampaged through the helpless Riders until driven off by the Strong as They Need to Be protagonists.
    • Plus, Sauron's armour is ridiculously cool looking. Spikes everywhere, a huge, crownlike helmet that looks like a horse's skull, and the whole thing has a faint and delicate poison ivy motif etched into it.
    • Also, just as applicable, Saruman. Of course, it helps being played and voiced by Christopher Lee.
    • For a giant eyeball, Sauron is quite cool-looking himself. And then, of course, there's the Nazgul.
    • Even though he was a minor bad guy, the Uruk-Hai captain that popped up at the end of the first flick was also cool as hell. He's one of the few characters that gets to smack Aragorn around a little, does a really cool Captain America-like shield throw, and has the audacity to shove Aragorn's sword into his gut the rest of the way with utter contempt and defiance.
    • Then, of course, we have the Balrog, who is probably the Boba Fett of the movies series: he's a One-Scene Wonder that takes out a major hero for the remainder of a movie and is one of the more memorable characters.
  • Keyser Soze of The Usual Suspects is clearly a monstrously evil man if even half of the things said about him are true, but his coolness in doing them is indisputable, particularly given the famous twist ending has made him a by-word for the Diabolical Mastermind.
  • Hannibal Lecter--is there a character more evil, or more cool?
  • Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds.
  • For a very dark example, Col. Koobus from District 9. He's undeniably a Colonel Badass in every respect (though also a mass-murdering Complete Monster, which, of course, hasn't stopped a Misaimed Fandom bordering on Draco In Leather Pantsing).
  • The Joker from The Dark Knight Saga is both incredibly evil and highly admired by audiences. His skill in committing crimes, his witty commentary on a variety of subjects, his clever assessments of how people are going to react, his darkly comedic approach, his willingness to laugh at everything, including being beaten up by vigilantes (who he would rather see kill him if it means proving that the potential for brutality is within them), and his overall highly unconventional approach to villainy probably has something to do with this.
  • Completely subverted with Roman and Minnie Castevet in Rosemarys Baby - the tackiest Satanists ever.
  • Hans Gruber. That is all.
    • His brother Simon also qualifies.
  • Gabriel from Constantine. Also, the Devil and Balthazar.
  • The Decepticons of the Transformers, as they usually are in most Transformers series. Case in point: the Autobots are limited by their desire to make Earth their second home, and must take on friendly appearances and altmodes to blend in with civilians. The Decepticons, on the other hand, have no such limitation. Therefore, they take on the forms of tanks, F-22s, and satellites, or, in the case of Megatron and Shockwave, simply reject reformatting their original forms. Additionally, they have access to numerous weapons, ranging from Transformer-sized fighter jets to a giant mechanical worm that serves as a war beast. Even the humans are aware of this, as Epps, at one point, asks to no one in particular "How come the Decepticons get all the good shit!?"
    • Megatron (as mentioned above) is possibly the best example of this among the 'Cons themselves, especially in the first movie where he's at his most Ax Crazy and Badass, and is easily the most interesting and entertaining of the robots in the movie, despite getting less screen time than the humans or Autobots. Oh, and he's voiced by Hugo Weaving (see above).


  • This has notoriously been the biggest problem with John Milton's Paradise Lost. Satan is, in fact, so much more interesting to read about than God or Christ (except when the latter gets into His chariot) that William Blake thought Milton was "of the Devil's party without knowing it." The immense Misaimed Fandom hasn't helped. Even though what looked like was going to be an awesome battle scene over Earth turned into Satan running away after realizing that he's not cool anymore, which the sneering angels already knew, and the rest of the story after that shows him being humiliated worse until he wins with Eve and the narrative loses interest in him, for the most part. He's still falling the whole time. But who gets past the first couple of books, anyway?
  • Claudius the God is the story of Emperor Claudius, portrayed as a basically decent and honorable man thrust unwillingly into a position of ultimate power. I, Claudius chronicles the reigns of Augustus (and his wife Livia), Tiberius, and Caligula. Guess which one is the most fun read? In case you need a hint: one chapter of Claudius the God is devoted to the protagonist's visit to the doctor.
  • Defied in the Tortall Universe. Kel is disappointed that Blayce is not some grand wizard, and instead, just a short and ugly wimp. His muscle isn't too impressive either.
  • Subverted in The Screwtape Letters. Devils are bureaucratic, cranky, selfish killjoys who actively try and reduce the pleasure sinning gives people.
  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories averts and references this. The villains are the enemies of all stories - therefore, they despise anything that looks interesting or impressive. The Big Bad, Katham-Shud, even turns into a dramatic Eldritch Abomination One-Winged Angel form for all of a second just to contrast this trope to his weaselly, unimpressive self.
  • Stephen King reportedly hates this idea, and his later works try to send the message that "evil is pathetic". This is probably why the villains from his The Dark Tower series suffered severe Villain Decay in the last book.
  • Lestat.
  • The (extremely fangirled) White-Haired Pretty Boy Pollution in Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's book Good Omens is VERY MUCH Evil Is Cool. And hot.
    • And Crowley
    • All of the Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse fall under this trope, as the parts featuring one or all of them are easily the coolest and most awesome parts of the book.
  • Although you wouldn't know it from reading the actual book, where he is hideous, disgusting, and creepy, Dracula us essentially responsible for the entire western world's vampire obsession.
  • Lord Voldemort He's one of the most powerful and cunning characters in the series and has a kickass army of Dark wizards and various sinister creatures at his disposal.
  • Dante's The Divine Comedy is split up into three poems, detailing the narrator's journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. Guess which one is the best known. Similarly, while everyone knows about the Seven Deadly Sins, not too many people are familiar with the Seven Cardinal Virtues (Humility, Generosity, Chastity, Meekness, Temperance, Brotherly Love, and Diligence).
  • In the Inheritance Cycle, Murtagh does a Face Heel Turn and get his strength boosted to many times his original level by being taught "secret magic" by Galbatorix. He is considered an Ensemble Darkhorse by many, especially in comparison to Eragon.
  • Among the Redwall fandom, the Always Chaotic Evil vermin tend to be more well-liked than the Always Lawful Good woodlanders.
  • Although determining who is "evil" in A Song of Ice and Fire can get quite difficult, there are some characters who simply exude cool. Tywin Lannister, especially when he puts on his golden lion battle armour, his son Jaime, the Faceless Men, the White Walkers, both Cleganes, Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, Varys "the Spider", Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and Kevan Lannister

Live Action TV

  • In Family Matters, Extraverted Nerd Steve Urkel's formula based off the "cool gene" transformed him into Stefan Urkél, who was suave but amoral. However, this was subverted in Stefan's next appearance, where Steve revealed that he'd accidentally involved the "evil gene" in the formula; from then on, Stefan was both cool and nice.
  • For some reason, evil, batshit insane, brain-stealing villain Sylar from Heroes is a lot cooler than sane, geeky Sylar. Apparently, evil wears contacts. Ditching the specs (and also acquiring stubble) seems to be mandatory for characters taking a walk on the dark side. Consider Wesley from Angel: glasses on — the scholar and gentleman of the group. His attempts to be baddass are laughable. Glasses off — beds Lilah, keeps a woman tied up in his closet, breaks rogue Slayers out of jail, and tortures junkies for information.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel:
    • Spike, who, before he was turned into a vampire, was laughed at and wrote "poncy poetry", whereas when he was sired, he became all bad ass. (His actor, James Marsters, has since made this his specialty, as the rest of this page shows.)
    • Evil Angel is about seven times cooler than Good Angel. It probably has to do with the lack of brooding. Evil Angel is funny. He also gets several times smarter when he goes evil, which was lampshaded in the episode Awakening.
    • In an alternate universe, Xander and Willow got rid of their geeky sides after vampirization, instead opting for black leather and a smooth demeanour.
    • Faith thought this for a while, until she saw what a Complete Monster she had become and attempts suicide by Angel, then Buffy.
  • The Master of Doctor Who, in all his incarnations.
    • Same with the Daleks.
    • Also Davros.
    • Brother Lassar. He's played by Anthony Head. Nothing more needs to be said.
  • Captain John Hart of Torchwood. Kills someone and then says, totally bored, "Thirsty now". Casually admits he killed someone, apologises for the mess, clears a bar of all he considers ugly, and orders one shot of every drink in the bar. Then drinks what appears to be an entire bottle of Vodka. In one go. With no noticeable side effects. Comes out with regular quips. The only person who really gets the better of him is Gwen Cooper. It helps the same actor played Spike in Buffy, and there is a definite similarity between the two.
  • Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It, possibly the only political satire character ever to have been likened to Darth Vader.
  • Ba'al from Stargate SG-1. He's the one System Lord who wasn't handed an Idiot Ball, and, as a result, causes all sorts of unexpected trouble for SG-1. True, he also usually wears some really nice clothes that seem to be specially tailored. He's also one of the more fun, hammy Goa'uld, partly due to his pride and being a bit of a Deadpan Snarker with a really good plan.
  • The villains in Batman were always more colorful than Batman and Robin. No wonder so many established actors were willing to play them!
  • Mark Shepherd plays delightfully evil characters in Firefly, Supernatural, and Leverage that seem to come out on top and have lots of fun while doing so. From his shiny shoes to his amazingly charismatic voice, he effortlessly manages to outshine and out-cool the regulars on the show.
  • "Chaos", a rival computer hacker on Leverage seems to genuinely believe this and adopts it as his personal philosophy.
  • Supernatural: Castiel seems to get more bad ass and confident as he turns to the dark side in Season 6.
    • Also, lots and lots of the smarter villains. Including a season-seven appearance by an aging James Marsters, playing an apparently immortal witch capable of treating our god-killing heroes like gnats. Many of the coolest ones get Enemy Mine situations (like Crowley) or turn out to be fairly decent, or at least relatable, like Patrick the Gambler.
  • Scorpius from Farscape is this, right down to the leather clothes.
  • This is why Tubbs and Edward and Papa Lazarou from The League of Gentlemen are the most remembered characters: they're easily the most fucked up.
  • Smallville:
  • Just in general, on many reality TV shows, the villains are much more memorable and recognizable than the heroes are.


  • In the same vein as John Milton, "Please allow me to introduce myself/I'm a man of wealth and taste..."
  • The majority of all black and Death Metal rejoices in evil, be it Satanism, genocidal misanthropy, National Socialism, the violent kind of Odin-worship, or any other flavour of evil.

    Often subverted in the lyrical content, however. A lot of black metal is individualistic in the Nietzsche Wannabe tradition, while death metal tends towards either nihilism or more traditional "punk ethics". In these cases, the Evil Is Cool aesthetics are intended to be provocative and anti-social, rather than to be taken at face value. It's much less a rejoicing in actual evil as it is simply an embracing of this trope at an aesthetic level. Lyricists are aware that people, and they themselves, find villains, darkness, and horror to be interesting. As bands like Cannibal Corpse have said, very few extreme metal bands take their own lyrics seriously, and those who do are usually rather unstable. As Black Sabbath also stated, they're intended to be viewed much in the same light as horror films. A lot of bands simply use their music as a Villain Based Franchise.
  • Without a doubt, the coolest song in The Decemberists' Rock Opera The Hazards of Love is The Rake's Song, which happens to be a man casually telling the story of how he nonchalantly murdered all his children.
  • Powerman 5000's "Super Villain" song. That is all.
  • Dr. Steel. Many fans like him not for the music, but for the incredibly cool Steampunk Villain getup.

Professional Wrestling

  • It was this concept that led WCW to temporarily take the crown as the #1 wrestling promotion in the world with the New World Order. Although the nWo was comprised of heels, the charisma of its top members like Hogan and the Outsiders, combined with some innovative marketing (this announcement has been paid for by the New World Order), attracted many fans to their side.
  • Many professional wrestlers profess to enjoying playing a Heel far more than playing a Face. For some of them, this can bleed through into their performances, such that a wrestler who undergoes a Heel Face Turn actually loses popularity due to his lackluster performances afterwards. There's a reason a lot of professional wrestlers and wrestling fans tend to think Good Is Boring. Faces tend to fall into being good role-models or, because Good Is Dumb, lose any Genre Savvy skills they had as a heel and end up with no real personality. Heel Face Turns often result in promos that don't consist of anything more than saying, "I respect my opponents," "I want to prove that I'm the best," etc., as opposed to being able to take advantage of their creative mic skills. This is probably why many of the most popular wrestlers of the last twenty years have been tweeners or even heels, as opposed to faces.
  • A good heel turn can also pretty much save someone's career and end up making them a star after a disastrous or boring face run. See The Rock, Randy Orton, John Cena, and Santino Marella for prime examples of this in the past decade.
  • An interesting phenomena is when, through excellence in performance, an interesting persona, and good mic skills, a supposed Heel wins over the crowd and becomes a fan-favorite Heel.
    • When Kurt Angle first joined the WWE, he was considered to be a yet another "real" fighter who had not yet paid his dues as a Jobber. However, his ring skills were incredibly impressive, and his two gold medals (1996, Atlanta Olympics, and 1995, World Championships) weren't fake. Even more impressively, he won one of them while having a broken neck. And then, something miraculous happened. During a Monday Night Raw episode, the crowd started chanting "You Suck, You Suck" along with Angle's wrestling music. His reaction not only clarified his persona, but it also created the most loved heel in the history of wrestling.
    • The Rock had little or choice in the matter. The level of his creative and imaginative speeches won over the crowd almost against his will. One example of many, many, many classic Rock moments here.

Puppet Shows

Tabletop Games

  • Chaos epitomizes this trope in Warhammer 40000. Then again, so does the Imperium...
    • Also, Kharn the Betrayer. Seriously, what a great guy!
    • From the spinoff Dawn of War computer games: Eliphas the Inheritor is universally considered one of the top five characters, as is Gorgutz 'Ead 'Unter. Mainly because Eliphas is almost painfully badass and Gorgutz is awesomely insane.
  • Magic the Gathering reintroduced the Phyrexians, who want to corrupt and assimilate the entire multiverse. Naturally, half the fan base takes their side. 51%, at last count, in fact.
    • They eventually won the popularity contest and took over the world which they were fighting for.
  • Exalted: Infernals are widely considered to be way more awesome than Solars. The Solar charmset is generally viewed as kind of bland (the overriding theme is "I am really good at this" with a few paragraphs for each Charm describing what they are good at and how that is expressed), while Infernals do things like turning a glass of water into a tentacle or undergoing mitosis. Solars have an ascension path of "Solars with higher Essence", while Infernals can forge themselves into new Primordials. Abyssals, on the other hand, are much less popular due to flaws in their Charmset and limited support for character paths other than "angsty penitent" or "kill the world and piss on the ashes".


  • The Shakespearean characters every actor wants to play are his most notorious villains, Iago of Othello, and the eponymous Magnificent Bastard of Richard III. Similarly, every actress wants to be Lady Macbeth, his greatest villainess. The roguish buffoon Falstaff was so popular that Shakespeare gave him his own spin-off comedy in which he is the protagonist. (By royal command, no less - Queen Elizabeth turned out to be one of Falstaff's admirers.)
  • Similarly, the really cool characters in opera are not the tenor good guys, but the jealous/mad/pervert baritones and the creepy basses who sing low notes of Doom. Who would ever prefer the nice, boring tenor Don Ottavio to the Magnificent Bastard Don Giovanni? Or, in Der Freischütz, prefer the utterly bland Max to the ribaldly malevolent Kaspar?
  • And one of the greatest soprano roles in the entire repertoire is the evil Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute, despite having only two solo arias — they're both complete show-stoppers, especially "Der Hölle Rache köcht in meinem Herzen" ("Hell's vengeance boils in my heart").
  • Despite the fact that The Phantom of the Opera is an obsessive, controlling, homicidal, textbook 'bad boyfriend', he is inevitably the one the audience roots for. You'll have to scour through hundreds of Phantom/Christine Shipping Fan Fics to find one Raoul/Christine, and it's better than even money that actors would rather play the Phantom. Why? Raoul is a largely ineffective ponce; Erik drops chandeliers on people. Plus, in the case of the musical, he gets all of the cool songs and a stylish black cape.
  • Mr Doolittle of My Fair Lady is an amoral drunkard, but for all his faults, "With a little bit of luck" is so charming, we can't help but think this guy cool.
  • The entire point of the Villains Tonight! stage show on the Disney Cruise Line, featuring Hades, Maleficent, Ursula, Jafar, Yzma, Captain Hook, Cruella DeVil, and Dr. Facilier all together in one show!

Video Games

Web Comics

Web Original

  • On a more or less literal example, sites like Something Awful and Encyclopedia Dramatica took off on and later propagated the idea that e-baggery is hip and whoever feels empathy for others is not a true nerd.
  • Evil Flippy from Happy Tree Friends.
  • Mecha Sonic from Super Mario Bros Z is incredibly evil, yet incredibly Badass. Every time he appears in the story, he hands someone's ass over to them (Yoshi's brutal defeat in episode 3 and the utter massacre that was episode 6 come to mind). The series is already 8 episodes long and the most heroes managed to do was temporarily inconvenience him.
  • While calling him evil is a bit of a stretch, Strong Bad of Homestar Runner was originally intended to be a bumbling bad guy who always lost. He quickly became the most popular character on the website. His old introduction video actually said "you don't know it yet, but I'm the real reason you're here." From the first Strong Bad Email: "Do you use [your powers] for good, or for awesome?"
  • Roman Torchwick from RWBY. He just sits there being awesome.

Western Animation

  • Kim Possible:
    • Shego lives for this Trope. For starters, her backstory reveals that she started as a hero but turned villain since evil is cooler. And then she does, in fact, become the coolest person in the show.
    • It's not surprising considering all the crap she puts up with.
    • Every time some sort of Applied Phlebotinum brings out goofy old Ron's Super-Powered Evil Side, he becomes so damn awesome at being evil that he actually scares Shego.
    • Senor Senior, Senior was just a bored billionaire until Ron gave him the idea that it would be really cool if his mansion were an actual supervillain lair.
    • Ron often parodies this trope when faced with Deadly Invention of the Week.

  Ron: That would be so cool if it wasn't going to hurt us.

  • Mighty Max: the archvillain Skullmaster was voiced by Tim Curry. Luckily, for the rest of the cast, he only showed up in about 5 episodes. But in those episodes, well, he pretty much rules hell, and has demon and zombie armies at his command. Oh, and he can outsmart the Smart Guy and beat the Big Guy in a straight fight. Oh, and all of his convoluted plans succeed...except for the last one. Maybe.
  • The Big Bad of Teen Titans, Slade, is the most utterly Badass character in the show.
  • Megabyte from Re Boot. While fairly average throughout the first season, in subsequent seasons, he became increasingly hardcore, with impressive plans and still enough time to hand the heroes' asses to them in occasional fights.
  • You're watching Futurama, the show that does not advocate the cool crime of robbery!
  • On the Halloween Episode of The Fairly Odd Parents, every kid wanted to dress as the Jack O' Bots, four villains from Crash Nebula, since the bad guys' costumes were the coolest.
  • David Xanatos from Gargoyles, who manages to be both really cool and really fascinating.
  • Beast Wars:
    • Blackarachnia is very popular amongst the fanbase — like she says, she's hot, poisonous, and deadly. (Also, a Femme Fatale with the sort of body most fanboys only get to look at, that might also have something to do with it.)
    • Other popular Predacons include Megatron, Inferno, Tarantulas, Quickstrike, Rampage, and Waspinator.
    • The villains always have cooler names. The Autobots have "Optimus Prime", "Bumblebee", "Ironhide", "Ultra Magnus", "Trailbreaker", "Cliffjumper", "Bulkhead" and "Blurr", but how do they compare with Decepticons "Megatron", "Starscream", "Devastator", "Demolishor", "Frenzy", "Bonecrusher", "Barricade", "Blitzwing", "Shockwave", "Skullcruncher", and..."The Fallen"?
    • Megatron. In any incarnation. Also, G1 Megatron's Leonard Nimoy-voiced alter ego Galvatron and, as mentioned above, his Tyrannosaurus Rex (later dragon) Magnificent Bastard successor from Beast Wars, also called Megatron.
  • Care Bears: for some older fans, the main villains of the Nelvana series and movies are more entertaining than the Care Bears and Cousins.
  • The Dreamstone falls under similar territory. The fanbase largely favors Zordrak and the Urpneys over the cutesy residents of the Land Of The Dreams. Granted, for the Urpneys, it may be more a case of "Evil Is Funny".
  • Similar to Xanatos and Slade above, Tombstone and Green Goblin, the two main Big Bads of The Spectacular Spider-Man, are perhaps two of the most awesome characters in a series full of them.
  • Who was your favorite character from Fantasia? If you responded anything but Chernabog, the towering demon on the mountain from the end of the movie, your pants are now on fire.
  • Victor Veloci, the villain of the horrifically Anvilicious and poorly researched Dino Squad, is seen by many of the show's few viewers as the only interesting character.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender;
    • Her Majesty Princess Azula of the Fire Nation. Aside from being able to do all sorts of neat tricks with her blue fire and her ability to bend lightning, she's also the walking embodiment of Dangerously Genre Savvy (her actions in the Book Two finale are simultaneously Nightmare Fuel and a Crowning Moment of Awesome).
    • Zuko also managed to profit from this; considerably less since he's a) not that good at being evil and b) The Woobie even when he's evil, but it gave him a certain style and badass cred that seems to help draw in the fans. Especially in the beginning of the first season, when he was actually the villain.


  1. to be fair, he made a Heel Face Turn beforehand